Car insurance in Washington is expensive because cities like Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma rank in the top 10 for vehicle theft nationwide. In Washington, you can expect to pay approximately $1,343 per year for full coverage car insurance or $652 per year for minimum coverage. Car insurance in Washington is about the same as the national average, which is around $1,500 annually for full coverage and about $600 per year for minimum coverage.
The cost of car insurance is steadily increasing, too, both in Washington and nationwide. As the cost of providing insurance goes up, the premiums insurers charge also rise. All insured drivers share the increasing cost of insurance. That is why your rates tend to go up every time your policy is renewed, regardless of whether any individual factors—like your driving record or location—have changed.
There are several unique reasons why car insurance goes up every year in Washington, too, even if your details remain the same.
Top Reasons Car Insurance Is Expensive in Washington
- People in Washington are driving more
As a result, the number of accidents, claims, and payouts is rising, too. In Washington, there were approximately 536 fatal crashes in 2018, versus 462 fatal crashes in 2014.
- Washington auto repairs are getting more expensive
Another reason Washington auto insurance is getting more expensive is that cars are becoming more expensive to repair. In 2016, the average cost of car repairs in Washington was $924.47, up from $809.56 in 2012. Vehicles today cost more to repair due to all the technology and features inside them now.
- People in Washington drive uninsured
As the cost of car insurance continues to rise, more drivers take the risk of driving without car insurance. In 2015, 17% of drivers lacked even minimum liability insurance in Washington. The cost of uninsured drivers is passed on to consumers through higher premiums.
- Healthcare in Washington is getting more expensive
Car insurance companies are hit hardest when paying out claims involving medical bills, and it's not getting any cheaper. Healthcare spending increases by an average of 6.7% every year in Washington.
- Washington is experiencing more severe weather
In Washington, severe weather events like wildfires, droughts, and flooding are becoming increasingly common. These weather events cause insurers to pay out a higher number of claims, which tend to be more expensive and less predictable. As a result, they have to raise rates to keep pace.
However, there could be other issues elevating your rates.
If your driving record is clean and your rates are still high, your car insurance might be expensive because of your:
Age. Drivers under 25 and older than 65 pay more for auto coverage because they are statistically more likely to be involved in serious and fatal accidents. In Washington, 16-year-old drivers pay an average of $6,187, 25-year-old drivers pay an average of $1,574, and people over 65 pay an average of $1,224.
Location and driving patterns. Population-dense cities have higher premiums than rural areas because city living usually means more accidents, more property crime, and more frequent claims. In Washington, the most expensive locations for insurance are Seattle, Burien, and Auburn. You can also expect rates to change based on your driving patterns—long commutes or regular driving in high-risk areas can cost you.
Financial responsibility. In Washington, drivers with no credit pay 50% more on their premiums than drivers with excellent credit. You can also demonstrate financial responsibility by maintaining minimum car insurance with no gaps in coverage. Letting your coverage lapse could raise your rate by as much as 12% in Washington, when you get your next policy.
Claims history. You should avoid filing small claims that can drive up your premiums. In Washington, the average collision claim raises a driver's rates by $542.00, which amounts to $1,626 over the course of three years. If you have a $500 deductible and a $1,500 claim, you'll end up paying $2,126 through insurance, versus $1,500 out of pocket. In that case, filing a claim is not the best choice.
How to Get Cheaper Car Insurance in Washington
Multiple factors affect the cost of car insurance. Some things you can't control, but you do have a say in most of the contributing factors. Driving safely, obeying traffic laws, and keeping a clean driving record are the best ways to keep your insurance costs down.
Other than that, the best way to lower your car insurance costs is to compare rates from at least three insurance companies. Ideally, you should check your rates every 6-12 months, when you renew your policy. But at a minimum, be sure to check your record and shop for rates every three to five years, since you may be able to get a lower rate if a traffic violation falls off your record.
In Washington, the most expensive policies cost roughly $1,498, and the least expensive coverage costs around $994, when all driver profile information is the same. That means you could save as much as $504 simply by shopping around. Be sure to confirm you're getting all the discounts you're eligible for, too.